heating

Stay Warm & Save on Heating Costs

As the weather turns colder, heaters are kicking on and many folks find themselves paying higher energy bills. However, keeping your home at a comfortable temperature doesn’t have to cost a lot. Here are some tips on how to stay warm and still save money on heating costs.

Dress Appropriately

Don’t rely just on the furnace to keep toasty in the winter—dress in warm clothes. Wear socks or a comfy jacket and you won’t have to turn the temperature up as high. Use cushy blankets while watching TV on the couch and put thick comforters & sheets on your bed.

Audit Your Energy

Search for heat leaks. If you feel a cold draft in your home, it means the hot air is escaping. Windows and doors are the biggest culprits. Check the weather stripping and replace if it’s old and worn. Re-caulk your window panes if necessary.

You can also take advantage of the sun. Open curtains during the day to let it shine in and naturally provide heat. And, contrary to what you may think a ceiling fan on a low setting can help circulate warm air instead of making things cooler.

Boost Efficiency

Many professionals recommend a furnace inspection every other year and, if your HVAC system is more than 10 years old, you should get it checked annually. But you don’t need an expert to change your air filter, which you should do every month or two. Regular maintenance will increase efficiency.

Resist the urge to crank up the thermostat when it’s cold outside. Keeping it in the high 60s or low 70s will ensure it’s comfortable without costing you too much. In fact, each one-degree drop can reduce your energy bill by up to 3%. And lowering it when you’re not there or while you’re sleeping can also save money. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that lowering the temperature seven to 10 degrees eight hours a day will cut the bill by about 10% annually. Many modern thermostats are programmable and some smart-home systems will only warm rooms with people in them.

The change in seasons doesn’t have to equal higher utility costs. By dressing warmly, maintaining your furnace and preventing heat loss, you’ll stay warmer and spend less doing it.

passwords

Fraud Prevention: Creating Strong Passwords

If your password is 123456, qwerty or, even worse, password, you should probably stop reading and change it now. Despite all the security hacks and data breaches in today’s world, many people still use easy-to-guess logins, putting their information & identities at risk. Creating strong passwords is your first line of defense against hackers, so here are some tips to get started.

  • Make it easy (for you)—Passwords you can’t remember are useless. Choose keywords or phrases you can easily memorize. But don’t make it so simple that someone else could quickly figure it out.
  • Make it unique—Don’t use the same login on various accounts, because if someone gets access to one, they’ll have them all. Create a unique password for every site to ensure better security.
  • Change cases—Many logins are case-sensitive, so using a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters will add an extra layer of protection. You don’t even have to follow the capitalization rules you learned in school—CapiTaLIze whateVER yOU WAnT, WHerEveR You wANt.
  • Add numbers—Include numbers that mean something to you. Don’t just include a 1 at the end of your password, put a series at the beginning (8675309Jenny), at the end (Jenny8675309) or interspersed throughout a word (J867e53nn09y). You can even replace certain letters with numbers, such as 4m3r1c4 F1r57 Cr3d17 Un10n.
  • Try special characters—Even adding a question mark at the end of your password can make a difference. You can add the pound sign at the beginning to make it hashtag (#PurpleToupee?) or put a word in quotes (Nowmadewith”real”cheese!). Be creative.
  • Consider passphrases—Instead of just one or two words, try a sentence. Create a long phrase that means something to you, such as nevergonnagiveyouUP!nevergonnaletyouDOWN! or WhyDoesMyEmployerMakesMeChangeThisEvery6Months?
  • Swap passwords often—Make a habit of changing your passwords periodically. This rotation will ensure that even if someone does discover your login, they won’t have it for long.

Following the advice above may not protect you from every cyberattack, but it will help strengthen your online security.

Fall Maintenance for Your Finances

When the seasons change, many of us have a home maintenance checklist that’s important to work through before winter arrives. The same is true for your finances, so here are a few fall to-dos:

InsuranceThese months usually present the opportunity to review your employer-sponsored benefits as open enrollment periods occur. Take a look at your health care, life & disability insurance, and related plans & see if your coverage levels need to be raised or lowered according to your changing life circumstances. 

Health saving accountsReview your contributions and determine if it’s a good time to start increasing your deposits. These accounts at America First are a smart way to manage the costs of care throughout the year, providing flexibility & convenient access.

 The costs of financing—Gather your loan documents and compare the rates you are paying for your home, autos, RVs and credit cards, with what America First offers. You may find that you can save significantly by refinancing with your credit union.

BudgetsMany equate budgets with diets: refusing to eat what you want yet don’t necessarily need. But the process doesn’t need to be painful. Visit americafirst.com for a host of valuable, easy & and free online budgeting tools that will get your finances in shape well before the new year.

And be sure to stop by your local branch if you have any questions or would like to speak with a representative.

Make the Most of Your Resources

With quick & easy home equity loans from America First, you’ll have the resources ready to tackle that much-needed remodeling project.

Plus, you’ll benefit from:

  • Low rates
  • Flexible terms
  • Interest-only & fixed-rate options
  • Quick access when you need it
  • Potential tax advantages
  • And more

Apply today.

Breaches & Identity Theft Are All Too Common—But We’re Here to Help You

By John B. Lund, President and Chief Executive Officer

Unfortunately, the news of data compromises occurring at merchants, large companies and most recently at Equifax, one of the three major credit-reporting agencies, is increasingly prevalent. Considering the Equifax incident involved nearly half the U.S. population—143 million residents—the chances of any given individual being affected are reasonably high. You can find out if this breach has impacted you at equifax.com. If your information is involved, there are steps you can and should take to protect your identity:

  • If you have an account with Equifax, change the password immediately. Be sure the new one is unique and not applicable to another site.
  • When you change a password, enable two-factor authentication when this feature is offered. Doing so will prevent those with malicious intent from requesting to reset your password, which would give them access to your account.
  • Monitor your credit reports. They are available from each of the three bureaus at no cost once a year. We also provide complimentary FICO® Scores, updated quarterly, through free online banking. Watch these indicators for negative movement.
  • Regularly review all your statements & transactions. Report potentially fraudulent charges immediately.
  • Be on the lookout for phishing emails that prompt you to click links or open attachments that are purportedly related to the Equifax situation. It’s also prudent to keep this in mind with any message you receive.
  • Identity thieves are additionally contacting consumers while posing as representatives of the credit bureaus. They will ask victims to provide personal information later used to defraud them. If you receive one of these phone calls, hang up immediately. If you need to speak with reporting agencies, contact them directly. This scam is sophisticated, with some caller IDs showing as originating from a bureau.

Your membership provides additional advantages that help safeguard your resources. Learn more about the following at americafirst.com:

  • Identity theft recovery services—If you suspect you’re a victim of identity theft, contact an America First representative, who can establish a case to help minimize the concern and impact. It’s free if you carry our Visa® credit cards & it covers all forms of ID theft.
  • Card Guard® mobile security—This free, state-of-the-art app gives you complete real-time control of when, where, and how your America First Visa cards are used.

Data breaches are serious problems for consumers and businesses. Financial institutions have complied with strict security measures since the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act passed. However, retailers and other entities handling sensitive personal financial information are not subject to these same standards. We should all urge our representatives and senators to support comprehensive data security legislation.

Thank you for your trust in America First and for the opportunity to assist in your complete financial needs. We look forward to a lifelong relationship with you and your family.

Enhance Your Community and Assist Our Less Fortunate Friends & Neighbors

There are many in our community who go hungry every day or who don’t know where they will get their next meals.

Thankfully, your generosity always comes through to combat this unfortunate trend. Please join America First to ensure the Greater Good food drive is a successful fall tradition.

We’ll be accepting canned & non-perishable food items–as well as other necessities, such as toothbrushes, diapers and soap—at all locations through Saturday, October 21.

You’ll be entered* in a drawing for an Apple Watch for each contribution you offer, plus you’ll be making a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate.

Please visit us here locate an office near you.

*Eligibility & conditions apply to the drawing. Must be 18 years of age to participate.

Maintenance

Eight Ways to Save on Car Maintenance

The freedom of having a personal vehicle comes with a price tag. In addition to the purchase price, AAA estimates the average cost of owning & operating a car is $8,558 annually. However, there are ways to limit these expenses. Here are eight tips to help you save on maintenance.

  1. Keep a record—The owner’s manual will tell you how often routine services, such as flushing the transmission or replacing the timing belt, should be done. Then, keep track of what maintenance has been performed to avoid unnecessary or redundant repairs.
  2. Do it yourself—Some things you can do on your own, even if you’re not mechanically inclined. The air filter, windshield wipers and even some light bulbs are all easy to replace and you won’t pay for labor. You might also consider changing the spark plugs or fuel filter If you’re comfortable with that.
  3. Watch your oil—It used to be that changing your oil every three months or 3,000 miles was the norm. But with later models and newer, synthetic oils, this isn’t the case. Check the car’s manual to know for sure, but you might not have to go in that often. Nevertheless, you should check your oil & other fluid levels regularly and don’t ignore serious leaks. Otherwise, your engine could seize and you’ll be spending a lot more.
  4. Check your tires—Those with low air pressure wear down faster than if they’re properly inflated and get worse gas mileage. Gauges aren’t expensive and will let you know if you’re at the right PSI. When the time comes to replace your tires, look for a place that offers free rotation, balancing, and alignment with purchases.
  5. Clean your battery—To extend its life, clean any corrosion off the terminals—all you need is baking soda, water and a toothbrush. Automotive stores also sell wire brushes specifically for this purpose.
  6. Do your research—If you encounter a problem, look up online articles & watch YouTube videos. Learn what could be wrong so you feel more confident when you go to a mechanic. Find a shop you trust and don’t be afraid to go somewhere else if you feel they’re taking advantage of you. Compare estimates, find coupons, and seek discounts on parts—some shops will even let you bring in your own that you purchased elsewhere.
  7. Save on gas—Most cars, especially when you drive them in higher altitudes, don’t need premium fuel. Save with the cheaper option. Also, don’t drive aggressively—sudden acceleration or braking wastes gas. Speaking of unnecessarily burning fuel, combine your errands so you’re not making multiple trips.
  8. Watch your dashboard—Don’t ignore the warning lights. If the oil, battery or check engine light is on, take it in and see what’s wrong. It could be a faulty sensor, but it might be something much more serious that, if left unchecked, could be extremely costly.

Preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid expensive auto repairs. By following the tips above, you’ll extend the life of your car and save money.

relationship

Five Ways to Improve Your Relationship—with Money

Much like dating, your partnership with cash & credit can be complicated. And, just like marriage, it takes effort to make your finances work. Here are five tips to help you improve your relationship with money.

Communicate Clearly

First, you need to be honest about how you handle money. Then determine where you want your relationship go. Are you happy with the way you’re spending and saving or is there room for improvement? If you need to make some changes, set quantifiable & achievable objectives. Make a plan that fits your lifestyle and doesn’t leave you frustrated, then check in periodically on your progress.

Be Honest

Once you establish a budget, stick to it. No financial plan can be completely rigid, but exceptions to your rules should happen rarely and only after careful consideration. If you’re constantly fudging the numbers and making excuses, you’re only cheating yourself.

Reward Good Behavior

If you save and never spend, your relationship with money isn’t going to be as fulfilling. Set up periodic rewards when you reach a benchmark. Treating yourself to a snack or buying a song on iTunes won’t derail your financial future, and these small rewards will encourage you to continue.

Forgive Mistakes

Don’t throw everything away if there’s a hiccup in your plans, such as accidentally going over your grocery allowance for the week. If unexpected expenses come up, which they probably will, re-evaulate and adjust as necessary. Don’t stress out over something small. You may come in under budget the following week, so it could even out. Don’t use these little mistakes as an excuse to give up.

Show Respect

If you treat money like it’s completely expendable, it will be gone sooner than you’d like. You need to realize the importance of your finances. Treat money right by saving, investing and spending wisely, and you’ll get much more in return from your relationship with it.

transfer

How To Transfer Your Credit Card Balance in Three Easy Steps

If your credit cards have unreasonably high rates and you’re paying more than you earn, it’s time for you to transfer those balances to America First. You can even consolidate multiple cards into one, easy-to-manage account.

We offer unlimited cash back, no annual fees, and some of the lowest rates in the nation. Plus, it’s simple to switch.

Step 1: Open your Visa® account

If you already have a Visa credit card from America First, you’re ready to begin. If not, it’s easy to apply for one.

Step 2: Get a cashier’s check

After determining how much you’ll need to pay on your other accounts, talk to an America First representative at a branch or call our member service department. We’ll cut a check from your Visa balance for the amount you owe, which will be payable to that financial institution. Don’t transfer the balance from your Visa to checking yourself or you’ll be charged a cash-advance fee—we waive that fee when cashier’s check are used.

Step 3: Pay off your other card

We’ll give you a check for the full amount or mail it directly to any address you request.

And, just like that, your balance is now on your America First Visa Platinum and you’ll benefit from lower rates, fewer fees & greater rewards.

America First Credit Union launches 13th annual Community Food Drive to serve those in need

For Immediate Release:

America First Credit Union launches 13th annual Community Food Drive to serve those in need

Utah’s largest credit union ramps up efforts to serve in advance of holiday season

Riverdale, Utah (Sept. 13, 2017) – With a profound commitment to helping the underprivileged in the communities it services, America First Credit Union kicks off the season of giving today with the launch of its 13th annual Community Food Drive which runs through Saturday, Oct. 21. All branch locations throughout Utah and southern Nevada will accept donations of non-perishable food items to distribute to local food pantries and food banks. Since its inception in 2004, the annual Community Food Drive has collected more than 150,000 pounds of food.

In addition to the food drive collection, the community-focused credit union will donate $5,000 in turkeys to Utah Food Bank in preparation for the holiday season. All collected items will be donated to the Utah Food Bank, Three Square Las Vegas and Cappallappa Family Reserve Center in Moapa, Nev.

“As we embark on the 13th year of the food drive, we recognize the many unfortunate situations occurring both nationally and right here at home,” said John Lund, President and CEO of America First. “The need for food in our communities is strong and as we continue our efforts to serve others, we look for help from the community, employees and members to give what they can as we head into the holiday months.”

According to the Utah Food Bank, one in six Utahans and one in five Utah children live in poverty and are unsure of when they’ll have their next meal and about 423,000 Utahans risk missing a meal each day. The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture report states that nearly 16 percent of Nevada and nearly 15-percent of Utah households are food insecure.

This year, the most needed non-perishable food items include, but are not limited to, canned vegetables, canned tuna fish, and peanut butter (no glass), among others. The public and America First members are encouraged to donate at any branch in Utah and Nevada through Saturday, Oct. 21.

To for more information or to find the nearest branch to make a donation, visit www.americafirst.com. Find America First Credit Union on Facebook, Twitter, or follow @AmericaFirst on Instagram and Pinterest.

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About America First Credit Union:

As the largest credit union in the state of Utah, America First boasts a long-standing history and 78 years servicing members and has become one of the largest, most stable and most progressive credit unions in the country while remaining a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative financial institution. Today, America First has 123 locations and is the 11th largest credit union in assets in the United States with more than $8.9 billion and the sixth largest credit union in membership in America with more than 868,000 members.

Contact:

America First Credit Union
Nicole Cypers
C: 801-726-9480
ncypers@americafirst.com

Quillin Advertising, Public Relations & Social Media
Cindy Pino
O: 702-256-5511
cpino@quillinlv.com